I begin with the word: undefine.
To unsettle: having no inhabitants: unoccupied: desolate

I fall into a combination of undefining and defining, unsettled in my writing, unsettled thoughts and images that need to be collaged together through words on paper— It is extremely difficult to describe an emotion that lies between verbs we already know. They are just verbs.

Muriel Leung’s quote sticks hard to my heart: “No one talks about what they have lost” (9). Writing is about describing everything I’ve lost, because everything I write about is from a place of the past, what once was that is no longer. I find myself trying to splice together what is and what was to make what could be, the remnant ghost. By mixing observations of organic decay and the complicated (often haunting or resigned) psychology of the self, the themes of death and violence juxtaposed with color and image creates tones of dreamy reality. What is real? What is defined?

So I begin from a place of desolation. Abstract Expressionist Barnett Newman created paintings he felt were the only way to react to a society broken by World War II, different from the still lifes and portraits, such malaise, showing us how we must begin over and over and over again from scratch, from etches in the dirt. Which means words have never existed, as they carry the weight of our art, how we can determine meaning with a single jumble of letters creatively rearranged together to make a picture of a skeleton hand clawing through the moon beams, or the wind’s blue tussle trying to uproot black trunks from black loam. If painting had never existed, meaning had never existed, and words had never existed—So how do I write as if words had never existed?

Recently, in attempting to find ways to cope with deaths of friends, I took to their obituaries for comfort. Oddly, I found the opposite. The block of text which should hold a lot of weigh seems to mean nothing as a block of words/facts. I found myself distraught over the flat block of text, the bland words, the matter-of-fact language that didn’t give merit or voices to the friends I knew. As I think of poetics, I think of how I can reshape the words of the obituary, the biographical points, the lack of paying homage to these people. These guys were my friends. Not just a piece of a family or hobby notes, but the obituaries feel so rude. How do I take this definition of death prescribed by generic family lines and newspapers and redefine what the obituary does? By taking the defined and reshaping it, giving it new form, highlighting the persona of the one who was lost instead of spewing out facts, but creating art/creating life from something desolate…

Growth and decay is a part of the natural process of existing, of things becoming “skeletal.” This becoming a “skeleton,” undefining, is a way of understanding, a way of beginning again, reducing the world down to the bare bones of the self, essentially stripping subjectivity away from experience to see the world as it truthfully is. Undefining shows, instead of narrations, vignettes of emotional landscapes that impact all of us, knocking into our personal trajectories and veering us into different paths and experiences. This reshaping makes it possible to sift through organic processes in which people cope with every-day life—but for me, it seems also to take place in a setting that feels like a real-time dreamscape junkyard full of odd objects and animal remains—Pieces of a puzzle that have been whole and taken apart, now trying to get it whole again. A focus is on natural forces along with other forces—the self, each other—and by giving all these aspects personification of their own creates an interactive image full of life in each object, whether the object is alive or remnants of something that once was.  The objects are vehicles of experience. These objects help to examine a process of navigating various destinations, whether that destination be where we find ourselves currently (at any present moment during a life), our obsessions, like a physical skull in a poem, or at the moment of something larger—the onset of death.

By taking scenes or moments apart, starting from nothing, writing can demonstrate how form and imagery can evoke an emotionally driven subject in a dream-like space of metaphorical and literal phantoms that comes with the burden of existence, while also being true to the purpose of poetry, to shine a mirror at the world. I believe a process of undefining through writing reveals a glimpse of the mystical essence of human experience and the paradox of the transcendental enactment of what it means to exist among other living things, which allows us to rise and fall, to face conflict every day and continue through the days.

ain't the town a bar and a road

 

gag      rose

me

 

art

zum

 

true

am       tattered

design

 

path to

 

us

ill use

 

rest

stay